So the question that I hope to tackle in this post is “Do we have a proper perspective on death?” Before I get to far down the road I would like say, that this is by no means a feeble attempt to goad you into feeling better if you lost someone you love. I am not seeking to make cheap excuses or to hide the tragedy of the loss of life, I will try to look at the issue of death and dying in a logical manner that maybe we could reconcile some of the perceived tragic and sometimes brutal events that seemed to be committed in the bible.
What I hope to accomplish is that you see that God’s charter is consistent throughout the bible. I also want to qualify that I am trying to write this in a brief setting that is accessible to anyone that might stumble upon this post. I could write a book going into incredible depth on this subject, so if it seems as though I’m not going as in-depth as I could you’re right ( I would welcome your comments or questions and I promise I will respond)
So with all that being said lets dive in. When I initially looked at these text where God orders the death of these women, children and infants, I was shocked and thought wait a minute this is a little extreme here. Why would God do that, As I thought about it and tried to align myself with God’s potential perspective, I came to the conclusion that this could be a loving act if this was the best thing for all that were involved. My next hurdle was; Ok how can death be the best thing…
Here is what I came up with, When I/we look at death we see the end of something. Generally we see the end of growth, beauty, potential, relationship… (This list can go on and on I’m keeping it short on purpose) God on the other hand, is one that is outside of time, at least the way we see it, so there is no loss, there is only fulfillment. Let me show you what I mean. Lets look at one of the things that we mourn; “potential” for example ( We can do this with anything that we could come up with on our list)
We might say in death someone loses the potential to impact the world and others. God says I am creating the most effective impact in their death. We see things in the here and now. God sees the from the beginning of creation to the end of this world all at once and he has orchestrated each life and death in a way that it might have the most effective impact. Especially in this situation that has been recorded for all to see. The question that we have to ask is what is the impact that these deaths as well as the deaths of others will have upon us. Will we carry on their legacy by telling their story and its effect on our lives and others? Or does their effect end when their life does?
You might say but they have been robbed of seeing their potential impact and understanding of how their life and death impacted others. Well the Bible speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. It seems that after death that we will have a more clear understanding of our effect than we ever could when we are alive. Imagine if you could see how you actions would affect the next 4 or 5 generations would you life differently? Let me give you a snippet of an example. As a teenager I had moments where I was not as kind as I could have been to others. There response then has effected me today as I have grown in understanding. There is no way that these people could ever know the effect they had. They may even have a false view of my perception of them. I think we can all agree that on this side of the veil we are limited in our view.
Well what about the potential of relationships, When we die our relationships are severed. God see’s it as the opposite. As we live here on earth we are in a constant state of competition with one another. We misunderstand each others motivations and communications and our insecurities always cloud our ability to truly experience intimacy, trust and community. God has a plan where we will be in the most pure and perfect relationships. There won’t be competition or misunderstanding. Our security won’t be in how pretty we are or how successful we are but in whose we are. We will all celebrate the King as well as our citizenship of His Kingdom together. And our relationships won’t even be the best thing. We will be in the presence of the one who not only loves but is love. It will be glorious.
But what about their potential success you might ask? Well you have to fall back on the impact paragraph somewhat because although success in a career or anything else is ultimately just away to make us feel better about our selves, it’s a grab for significance. And for what? This could get depressing. Solomon Expressed it this way vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil, Ecclesiastes is a book that really examines this question look at Chapter 2 here. When we die is when we will receive our reward from a just God that sees the impact that your life had. They way we see success may ruin us as well as our impact. The way God sees success has eternal rewards. Well what about the potential of developing our identity? Well we are doing a horrible job at that aren’t we, People suffer from every self-induced ailment under the sun because they think they have to create an identity for themselves.
My son is 9 and already is getting lost in wanting to impress friends and teachers to perform in school and in sports. A few short years ago he could rest in just being my son, knowing that he was always loved, always protected and always provided for by his mom and dad. We don’t develop identities, we rob people of them. Your identity should rest in being a beloved child of the King.
I would like to share 3 verses with you on death that will hopefully give you a little clearer view of how we are to see death. The first is 2 Samuel 12:22 He said, “When the child was still alive, I fasted and I wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? Yahweh may have mercy on me that the child will live.’ David mourned the dying of his son, He wanted to have time to love and invest himself in his son, to watch him grow, maybe even to watch him become a king. But he knew that the death of son was not cruel to his son. David was the one that was hurt, David was the one that in which he said maybe the Lord may have mercy on me? It is appropriate, it is good to mourn the loss of the ones that you love. But is their dying that we should mourn not their death. In death David knew his son was in a better place and that he would see him again.
1 Corinthians 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” After Christ rose from the dead, we see Paul almost mocking death, for there was no more mystery, no more fear, no more power that you needed to fear or mourn. We should miss those that pass put we no longer need to question their end, They are in the hands of a loving and just God.
Of course we have to look at the easiest verse in the Bible to memorize John 11:35 Jesus wept. I love this verse because although Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead He wept, Why because he knew the pain that was caused he saw the broken hearts of those he loved. Death was is the enemy that Jesus came to overcome, it is our greatest reminder of our sin and brokeness. When those that we love die although Jesus is their security I believe he still mourns for you and for me He cares about our pain.
There is little that is better on this side of death what is, is mostly bad; selfishness, vanity and conceit. But there is something that we can do better here and that is to serve and to sacrifice, Some pour themselves out in an instant and through death and others over a lifetime. Paul put it best in Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I think about this verse like this to live is Christ…. His name reflected who he was, His character, His purpose, His passion. Which means while we are still here we are to be about Loving one another, bringing unity and hope to all that we run into, To lifting up those that are down and speaking truth in love to all those that we can impact. We are to be a servant to all and we are to be bold about the hope and future that is found in Him and His sacrifice.
So I am sure you noticed I have not addressed the potential or certainty of Judgment in death. You can be assured that I will peal that onion next time or this is longer than I wanted already. Today we looked at understanding death in a general sense
So our next post we will look at Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived and what sort of judgment should they get)